Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Exploring Writing in the Classroom

Already Ready: Nurturing Writers in Preschool and Kindergarden by Lilian G. Katz discusses the importance of having a well rounded literacy experience. It especially delves into the topic of read alouds. Children today often read books in their childcare settings, but what they aren't learning is who wrote the book and who drew the pictures. It is important for teachers and caregivers to introduce who the author and illustrator are of a book. It helps children relate to the book and to know that someone wrote the book and maybe they might want to be writers or illustrators too. As teachers it is important for us to talk about all the components of a books for instance the people who make books, what makes a picture book, a picture book, talk about different kinds of books, the purpose for books, and the decisions writers and illustrators make. When children are learning about these components they are learning about new opportunities for themselves.

Another great book that talks about developing literacy with children is Castle in the Classroom: A Story as a Springboard for Early Literacy by Georgia Heard talks about developing certain characteristics of a story for example plot, setting, characters, etc. In the book it talks about a teacher who converted her one classroom into a literacy experiment. The children broke off into groups and chose certain scenes to depict such as a castle, forest, and a beanstalk. Through this real life experience the children explored the setting, developing the characters, and writing the plot for their stories. The children learned about all these aspects through a hands on experience. I think this is very doable in a preschool setting. Children are learning through play and developing literacy and writing skills in a fun and unique way.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Children and Technology

In this day and age technology is everywhere and children are starting to use technology from a very young age. Toddlers are using Ipads and computers to play games, draw, and talk to grandma. Some are wondering, is it too early for children to use Ipads and computers at such a young age? Is it appropriate?

It depends on the reasons behind it. If teachers and parents are using technology as a replacement for interaction then yes it is inappropriate. But if they are using it as a learning tool, then it may be okay. While computers and Ipads don't take the place of the teacher or hands-on learning it is an alternative to conventional methods of teaching. There are so many applications and programs for children that are age appropriate and geared toward learning that children and teachers can use in the classroom and parents can use at home. There are programs for letter recognition, letter sounds, colors, numbers, math, science, social studies, art, etc. The uses of technology are endless.

There has to be a balance. Children learn so much through play with their peers and their environment. Children can also learn a lot through technology. Teachers and parents have to find that balance between the two. Technology can be use to extend a child's learning experience or to present material in a new way. Children also need to get out there and get their hands dirty and learn through doing.

So parents and teachers get out there and find that happy medium and learn with your kids!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Literacy- Enriched Play Centers

Literacy-enriched play centers are an important part of the classroom and to children's development. Creating literacy- enriched centers is simple. Below are several ways you can incorporate them into your classroom.

                                                         Art Gallery
     - Invite an artistic person into the classroom. This could be a parent, family members,
       museum curators, exhibit designers.        
     - Tour an art gallery or museum.
     - Share literature that focuses on art and artists from multiple cultural backgrounds.
     - Create an area that the children can use to showcase their art.
     - Have children present multiple works of art.

                                                       Construction Site

     - Tour home-improvement stores
     - Visit construction sites
     - Invite architects, designers, construction workers., plumbers, electricians, etc to come speak
     - Create an area for children to role play
     - Provide hard hats, tool belts, safety glasses, toy trucks, bull dozers, dump trucks, tools, boxes
       to use to build, writing utensils and paper for blueprints
     - Books about construction

                                                        Space Station

     - Visit websites about space stations
     - Share books about space, pictures
     - Provide items to make telescopes (paper towel rolls, cylindrical items)
     - PIctures of outer space, starts, planets, galaxies, etc
     - Boxes for making space ships, tin foil, paint, stickers, etc.
     - Paper and pencils for the children to draw maps, plans diagrams

                                                      Weather Station

     - View weather programs, videos
     - Listen to weather reports, radio
     - Provide students with websites to visit to view weather, record weather, observe weather
       around the world
     - Place a table and a magnetic white board or chalkboard near a window
     - Provide maps, video cameras, magnets and pictures of weather with weather words
     - Books about weather
     - Paper and pencils to observe and record the weather

Literacy is all around us in different forms. We use literacy in our daily lives, to do our jobs, to imagine, remember, and to function in general. Why not incorporate them in new inviting ways for children. Literacy-enriched centers provide children with a new opportunity to explore literature.